Friday night lights won’t be returning to Colorado high school football fields this fall.
At a meeting Tuesday, the Colorado High School Activities Association Board of Directors voted to not reconsider adjustments to the 2020-21 sports calendar approved on Aug. 4, Bert Borgmann, CHSAA assistant commissioner, stated in an email sent Wednesday morning. That means high school sports will be played in four abridged seasons instead of the usual three, with football moved to spring.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges. Specific to CHSAA activities, this has included trying to resume a traditional fall season for moderate- to high-risk contact sports. It has forced inequities when making statewide decisions for the 180,000 student-participants, 363 voluntary members schools, and 178 school districts across the state,” Borgmann stated the email.
CHSAA created a schedule of A, B, C and D seasons, the first of which started last month and includes cross country, boys golf, tennis and softball. Season B is slated to start in January and will include basketball, ice hockey, spirit, skiing, girls swimming and wrestling. Season C, which starts in February and March, in addition to football includes field hockey, gymnastics, boys soccer, gymnastics and unified bowling. The final season, D, will begin in April and includes baseball, girls golf, girls tennis, girls soccer, lacrosse, boys swimming, boys volleyball and track and field.
"We understand that our school communities would like to return to all levels of normalcy," Troy Baker, president of CHSAA's Board of Directors and athletic director at Buena Vista High School, stated in the email. "We listened to all parties and the voices of our membership resonated strongly to support the plan as approved in August. The plan aligns with the CHSAA mission. All students have an opportunity to play a season during the 2020-21 school year."
Richard Hargrove, superintendent of Springfield Schools and CHSAA board member, in the email stated, "We are focused on getting school started and running smoothly, as well as handling all the issues of running a school district and trying to have that be as normal as possible. We do not want to travel. The biggest thing for me in the end is that we have continued to move the goalposts, and every time we turned around, we had something else we had to adjust to. The discussion last night amplified that there was another potential goalpost movement.
“We have already developed a calendar that addresses the concerns of health officials, and gives all students a season and a chance to participate. We need to move forward with that plan.”
During discussion Tuesday, the CHSAA board noted the “safety, physical and emotional well-being of Colorado student's participants must be at the forefront of every decision” and “there are Title IX and gender representation issues around any reconsideration of the approved calendar,” according to the email.
Terita Walker, assistant principal at Denver East High School and CHSAA board member, in the email stated, “Our state has seen new golf, tennis, softball, and cross country teams formed statewide. Once this plan was rolled out, school administrators and families began to reshape their lives around the calendar. We are moving forward knowing all of our students will have the chance to participate in 2021."
CHSAA will continue to regularly meet with the governor’s staff, COVID-19 Response Team, and educational and health officials to implement the 2020-21 activities calendar, according to the email.